A Michigan class action lawyer can file a new lawsuit or help you join an existing case. Class action lawsuits provide a great opportunity to get settlements in a wide variety of cases.

The decision to file an individual lawsuit or join a class action lawsuit depends on a number of factors.  An experienced law firm in handling these cases will provide you with sound legal advice on the best option for your particular claim.

If you are thinking of filing a class action case or received written notice of pending case, you should contact Buckfire Law today.

Call us for a free consultation now.

Choose our Michigan Class Action Lawyers

Since 1969, Buckfire Law has been a leader in litigating cases for consumers and injury victims. We have won the top awards in the legal profession, including:

  • U.S. News & World Report Best Law Firms
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • The National Top 100 Trial Lawyers
  • Best Attorneys of America
  • Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum

We charge no legal fees until you receive your settlement check. And best of all, it costs nothing to have our top-rated Michigan class action lawyers start your case.

We offer a free consultation for all cases and there is no obligation to hire us for your case.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action is a legal process for one or more plaintiffs to file a lawsuit on behalf of a larger group, or “class”.  Also called a “collective action,” it allows courts to manage lawsuits with a large number of claimants are unmanageable if each claimant filed an individual case.

These lawsuits also make it possible for people with small claims to pursue their legal rights together as a group, whereas it would be not economically feasible to pursue an individual claim.  The entire group as a whole garner the leverage to assert a legal right.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23

Most class action lawsuits are filed in federal courts. There are specific court rules and provisions setting the requirements for filing a case.

Rule 23 (a) sets out the prerequisites to all class actions, which are:

  1. A class must be so numerous it is not practical to handle all claims on an individual basis. A class can be as small as 30 plaintiffs and as large as many thousands.
  2. There must be questions of law or facts  common to all members of the class. This is the only way a judge can issue a ruling affecting all claimants.
  3. One or more members of the group are representative of all members.
  4. The appointed class representative will represent the interests of all others.

Other subsections of Rule 23 set forth additional requirements for procedures and handling of collective actions in a United States Federal Court.

The judges strictly follow these rules from the commencement of the litigation through the settlement of a case.

Examples of Michigan Class Action Lawsuits

A Michigan class action lawyer files  many different types of lawsuits including:

  • Age discrimination cases for employees subjected to a pattern or practice of racial, age, or gender discrimination by an employer;
  • Dangerous drugs harming consumers due to adverse side effects;
  • Defective medical devices causing injury due to design and manufacturing errors;
  • Shareholder lawsuits against corporations or boards of directors;
  • Investor lawsuits due to security fraud or deceitful practices;
  • Businesses and homes  damaged or destroyed due to environmental disasters and corporate neglect, like the Midland dam failure;
  • Product manufacturers, like auto makers, falsifying the performance of a vehicle, like miles per gallon and other measures;
  • Consumers who are ripped off or deceived by false advertising;
  • Harmful daily use products, like Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder;
  • Claims against insurance companies who unlawfully refuse payment under a policy, such as Covid-19 business interruption coverage;
  • Sexual assault lawsuits against universities, religious organizations, and groups;
  • Data breach claims, like those against hospitals, retail stores, banks, and other organizations and businesses;
  • Overtime pay lawsuits for unpaid wages against employers;
  • Defective consumer products, like exploding pressure cookers and unstable furniture falling over and injures a baby or small child.
  • Credit card and finance companies that include and collect excess fees and charges from consumers.
  • Insurance companies who require auto repair shops to use replacement parts not made for the original product (OEM).

Almost any type of civil lawsuit affecting a large number of people can be filed as a collective action.

The amount of each individual claim can be substantial or relatively small, but all must have common legal and factual issues in common.

How Do you Start a Case?

It only takes a single individual to start a case on behalf of all who were harmed. In fact, a person may have a grievance against a large company and not even know  thousands of other people have the same type of claim.

An experienced Michigan class action lawyer may recognize the need for filing claims for large groups of plaintiffs.

Once the need for this type of case is determined, the first step is to appoint a class representative to be the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

The case starts when a Complaint is filed with the court.  This is a legal pleading the sets for the specific legal and factual allegations against the defendant.

It also explains to the court the reasons  it is wise for the judge to consider giving it class action status.

Where is a Michigan Class Action Lawsuit Filed?

Most class action lawsuits are filed in federal courts.  A case can be filed in state court, but many times it is later transferred to a federal court.

In Michigan, the federal court system is divided into the Eastern District of Michigan and the Western District of Michigan.  Within those two divisions, there are several courthouses located throughout the state.  The federal courts are in these locations:

  • Federal Building, Ann Arbor (Eastern District)
  • U.S. Court House, Bay City (Eastern District)
  • Theodore Levin United States Courthouse, Detroit (Eastern District)
  • Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Flint (Eastern District)
  • Federal Building, Port Huron (Eastern District)
  • Gerald R. Ford Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Grand Rapids (Western District)
  • Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, Kalamazoo (Western District)
  • Charles Chamberlain Federal Building, Kalamazoo (Western District)
  • U.S. Courthouse, Marquette (Western District)
  • U.S. Post Office, Sault St. Marie (Western District)

The case is typically assigned to the district based upon the locality of the case or the residency of the class members.  Michigan residents can be plaintiffs in class actions filed and pending in other states also.  This is very common in cases involving dangerous drugs and defective medical devices, as well as for other consumer products.

Who is the Class Representative?

The class representative is the “front person” on the lawsuit. It is often the first person to hire a law firm to proceed with the case.

The class representative works with the attorneys to pursue the claims on behalf of all class members. And, the claim representative may receive additional compensation above the other claimants for participating in the legal proceedings.

While the class representative files the lawsuit, there may be hundreds or even thousands of people whose legal rights are affected by the suit and its allegations. These people are known as class members.

Class members are included any settlement or judgment from the lawsuit.

Who Decides if a Case Should be Filed as a Class Action?

The class representative and the class action lawyers often believe a case should be filed as a collective action. Ultimately, it is up to a judge to determine if it is appropriate.

Before a case can proceed as class action, it must be certified by a judge.

The class representative must demonstrate not only  the plaintiffs have a valid claim against a defendant, but all class members have similar claims. The judge must also be convinced  the lead plaintiff can adequately represent all other group members.

What Happens Once a Case is Certified by the Judge?

After the judge has certified the case as a class action, all potential plaintiffs are notified of the lawsuit.  Notice can be provided by mail, publishing, or other means.

Depending on the type of case and location of the court, there are usually two options for claimants.

In most cases, all claimants are automatically included in the lawsuit unless they specifically opt out of it.  In other cases, a person must opt in to the case.

The notice should specify whether it is an automatic opt-in or opt-out.  A person who wishes to opt-out can hire other counsel to pursue an individual claim separate from the group action.

What if More than One Michigan Class Action Lawyer Files Suit?

It is not uncommon for multiple law firms to file similar Complaints against the same defendant.

Each case will allege similar allegations and even propose its own class representative to sue for the entire group of plaintiffs.

Essentially, many different law firms are asking the same judge to certify their case as the class action. Each firm wants to be the firm designated by the court to proceed on behalf of all claimants.

When this happens, the judge often picks the firm to proceed for the group and can designate a committee with the other law firms to coordinate the cases for the plaintiffs.

Is it Worth Joining a Class Action Lawsuit?

The decision to join an existing case really depends on the type of case and the nature of your claim.

If you have a relatively small claim, or didn’t even know you had a claim, it is smart to just remain part of the group and hope you eventually receive a settlement check.

The benefit to joining the class action is often you have no personal involvement in the matter and no financial risks whatsoever.

You often do not have to appear for depositions or even go to court in most instances.  For cases involving personal injuries, especially from dangerous drugs, you will have to release your medical records and prescription lists.  Contact a Michigan class action lawyer for a free consultation to see if you have a case.

Should I Opt Out and File my Own Case?

If you have a substantial claim or your lawyer believes you would personally benefit greater than joining the class action group, you should opt out and file your own individual lawsuit.

This allows you to demand your own settlement and not be bound by the terms of an entire class settlement.  When there is one large class settlement, the money must be shared among all claimants and you may receive less compensation than if opted out and pursued your own claim.

The decision really a case by case decision and your attorney will advise you the best route to take for your case. After careful analysis, you can decide the best course for your case.

How Much is the Compensation for a Claimant?

The compensation payout amounts are different for every case. There is no “average” or “typical” class action settlement amount.

Most times, the amount an individual claimant will receive is not even determined until a large global settlement amount is reached on behalf of the entire group of plaintiffs.

At that time, the parties can propose the compensation for each class member or the judge can appoint a receiver to formulate the fairest way to divide the total amount to each participant.

Who Gets the Settlement Money?

The majority of the settlement money is divided among the plaintiffs.   The amount awarded to each claimant depends on the type of case and the nature of damages by the person.

For example, in some cases every claimant may have the exact same loss.  This could be true in a case against a cable TV company or credit card company for an unlawful charge.

In other cases, the damages differ between all claimants.  Examples would be in cases involving a defective medical device, like hernia mesh, where one claimant can have injuries far greater than another one.  In those cases, plaintiffs are often assigned a rating based upon the severity of injury and then persons in different classes receive different settlement amounts.

Class Action Case Study

Plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit suit on behalf of herself and other customers of a major bank who incurred overdraft fees on debit transactions that did not exceed the money in their accounts. The suit alleged the bank did not draft overdraft fees on each individual customer’s current balance, but rather used an unlawful method of calculation which unfairly penalized the customer.

The bank disputed the allegations by claiming it was an appropriate accounting practice. However, after litigating the matter the bank agreed to a settlement of $7,700,000. The bank also agreed to provide revised disclosures to alert customers when their accounts are subject to overdraft fees.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Settlement Check from Class Action?

Every case is unique so there is no set timetable to get paid a settlement check after an agreement is reached by the parties.

Once a case is resolved through negotiations or a trial, a judge must approve by the amount proposed and all attorney’s fees and costs.

Usually, each claimant will have to sign a release in order to get a check.  The release is then provided to the defendant and the check is eventually issued and mailed.

If you joined a class action without hiring a lawyer, the settlement check will be mailed directly to you.  Otherwise, it will go to the law firm and you will be processed for your payment.

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on the Settlement Money?

Class-action settlement proceeds are treated like proceeds other lawsuits.  In general, settlement compensation awards for physical injury or sickness are not taxable. For other case types, you may be required to pay taxes on all or a part of the money you received.

It is advisable for you to discuss your receipt of a class action settlement with your tax advisor  to make sure you are complying with federal and state tax laws.  You may be required to file Form 1099-MISC if you received payment of more than $600 in a case.

How Much Does a Michigan Class Action Lawyer Charge?

Almost all  lawyers charge on a contingent fee basis.  This means the case participants do not pay any legal fees at all to be a part of the case.

If the case settles, the attorneys receive a percentage share of the total settlement and it is shared proportionally between all of the claimants.  The judge must approve the attorney’s fees and all of the case costs and expenses claimed by the law firms.

Contact a Michigan Class Action Lawyer

To start your class action lawsuit or if you have questions about a pending case, contact an award-winning Michigan class action lawyer now.  Our team of experienced attorneys has the skill, knowledge, and resources to achieve great results for you and others with similar claims.

There is no risk whatsoever and it costs nothing to get started.  Call us now for a free consultation.

Michigan Class Action References and Resources

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Free Consultation Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. – Michigan Personal Injury Lawyers 29000 Inkster Road Suite 150 Southfield MI 48034 (800) 606-1717

Client Description: I am so grateful to have found Buckfire Law Firm. Randy and Natalie were there every step of the way. Natalie explained that it was going to be a lengthy process but that she would keep me posted along the way. They answered all my texts and emails, maybe not that same day but I also know I’m not their only client. My case was a tough case and it definitely wasn’t a big money case but they still fought like it was a million dollar case. Randy got me through some pretty difficult litigations. He is kind and compassionate and I now consider him a great friend. You have to realize when filing a lawsuit that you are not their only client and you have to be patient. You also have to understand that even though a wrong was done that you have to be able to prove your case. My case took 3 years and it got harder and harder to prove their wrong doing but in the end Randy got me way more than I was expecting and I gained a great friend!

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